And the third strike of the DOnald Trump Jr. story lands with a bang from the NY Times, because now we find out that not only was the offer of Russian assistance at the June meeting made with intent of the Trumps getting dirt on Clinton, the offer was part of a larger plan for the Russian government to directly assist the Trump campaign.
Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.
The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.
Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign. There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails.
But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government attempted to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.
So we've gone from "We never met with the Russians" to "OK we lied, we met with the Russians but it was something we forgot about" to "OK we lied, we met multiple times with the Russians but it had nothing to do with the campaign" to "OK we lied, we met with the Russians about the campaign but hey they set us up" to "The Russians were offering us assistance with helping the campaign win".
”In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he said to The Times in an email on Monday. “Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”
It is unclear whether Mr. Goldstone had direct knowledge of the origin of the damaging material. One person who was briefed on the emails said it appeared that he was passing along information that had been given to him by others.
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, the campaign chairman at the time, also attended the June 2016 meeting in New York. Representatives for Mr. Kushner referred requests for comments back to an earlier statement, which said he voluntarily disclosed the meeting to the federal government. He has deferred questions on the content of the meeting to Donald Trump Jr.
A spokesman for Mr. Manafort declined to comment.
But at the White House, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was adamant from the briefing room lectern that “the president’s campaign did not collude in any way. Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election. No one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election.”
Except of course now we know that isn't true. The Trump campaign was happily working with the Russians through cutouts like Goldstone, and the last hedge of the scoundrels, namely "If the Russians really were colluding, why wouldn't they offer intel on Clinton directly" has now vanished.
The Russians of course are throwing Junior under the bobsled with the speed of Sputnik.
A Russian lawyer tells NBC’s “Today” show that she was summoned to Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign to meet with Donald Trump Jr. and asked if she had information on the Clinton campaign. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told NBC she received a phone call from a man she didn’t know and was told to meet with the Trump campaign. She says she didn’t have information on the Clinton campaign and has never worked for the Russian government.
NBC’s “Today” and MSNBC aired an interview of the lawyer on Tuesday. It’s her first public comment since Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that he made time for the meeting hoping to get information on Clinton, his father’s Democratic presidential opponent.
Veselnitskaya says Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, attended the meeting but left after a few minutes. Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, also attended but never participated and spent much of the meeting on his phone. It wasn’t clear from the NBC report who in the meeting asked her for information.
On Clinton, she says through a translator: “It’s quite possible they were looking for information. They wanted it so badly.”
Anyway, it looks like the Russians were basically offering a pretty hefty package of tactics to help destroy Hillary's campaign in return for lifting sanctions, keeping Assad around, looking the other way on Ukraine, etc and Donny Jr. certainly wanted in on that. And if you think this is the only meeting, well...I have a feeling this isn't going to just vanish as it looks like the latest round of leaks to the Washington Post and NY Times since Saturday have all come from the White House itself.
Somebody wants Donald Trump Jr.'s head on a pike. My guess is that it's Jared Kushner and Ivanka. (and you thought she was the nice one.)
The caveat is that again, as people have mentioned and I have said earlier, something will only come from this if and only if Republicans are convinced keeping Trump around is more danger to them than impeachment. Since Republicans have yet to actually pay any major price for bad behavior so far, there's little to no reason to think that this will have much of an effect on the GOP now.
Whatever evidence Mueller and his team of prosecuting all-stars has at this point may not matter either. There's no reason in my mind to think that Trump would go even if impeached, and things could get far bloodier if we get to that point. Coward Republicans may simply wish to ignore that scenario and make sure Democrats never get a chance to even hold a vote on articles.
Still, this isn't quite The Big One, but it is the puzzle piece that makes all the other June 2016 Trumpie nonsense fit into place: Roger Stone's bragging that Clinton was going to be "destroyed", Julian Assange promising Clinton emails, and of course, the DNC email hack. All this happened after the June 9 meeting with Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower, and we know that Big Don himself was in the building at the time.
And on we go.